In an uber-chic Mumbai concept store hangs an off-white cotton dress with a plunging neckline. Scraps of colourful cloth pepper the bodice. The shapes of the scraps resemble none that you would readily recognise. Shapes best described as misshapen. But each bit is neatly sewn, hand-sewn, and impeccably finished. Clearly, thought has gone into the placement of each fragment. Turn the dress inside out, and more hand stitching becomes visible. It appears as though the entire outfit has been pieced together one stitch at a time. Even the letters on the label RaasLeela are hand embroidered. If one were to play on the idiom ‘the devil lies in the detail’, then perhaps this RaasLeela outfit, and all the others on the rack, could be described as an enjoyable prêt edit of, well, hell.
Beautiful, conscious, sustainable and very friendly to the Earth above all. Each item on the rack – unisex shirts, pear-shaped midis, shepherd’s jackets, flaring skirts and carrot pants – is made from kora or unbleached, undyed, unprocessed cotton. Some of it is fashioned using a coarse form of organic cotton that’s indigenous to the state of Gujarat, India. The five-year-old brand, RaasLeela, calls the state’s principal city, Ahmedabad, home. For the record, RaasLeela describes itself as a sustainable clothing and accessories brand that places great importance on reducing textile waste. And, those aforementioned colourful scraps are fabric debris generated by other local design houses (which explains the random shapes), and repurposed as embellishment on the off-white base fabric, the only kind of fabric that the brand uses. Reusing waste fabric is RaasLeela founder Hetal Shrivastav’s attempt at being part of the solution to the problems of textile waste and the amount of fabric that finds its way into landfills. One designer’s waste is another’s resource. It also works to fulfil a brand ideal. Working with waste means that no two pieces, even in the same style, can be identical, which adds to the uniqueness of a RaasLeela product. Also, most of the clothing is produced in free sizes and small batches. If a product sells out it’s made again only on order. Some might even term it genius, to buy and cleverly reuse waste. To not only fulfil a social objective...... The read the full article click on the Selvedge Articles icon below from issue no 95.